UW News

March 10, 2015

DRIVE/conference offers a deep dive into data mining

No matter what your business — from a nonprofit museum that wants to deepen visitor engagement to a chain store looking for new markets — it’s essential to be able to extract meaningful patterns and results from often massive reservoirs of data.

drive_logo_black-w500pxImproving this “art and science” of data analysis, reporting and visualization is the focus of the DRIVE/conference developed by the University of Washington, which will draw more than 700 IT and data professionals to Seattle and Bellevue on Wednesday and Thursday.

The conference, which started as a way for nonprofits to learn about innovations in data mining, now attracts professionals working in high-tech industries, professional sports, higher education, philanthropy, theme parks, ports, hospitals and government.

“It gives people real insights into the art that’s being developed in analytics and data modeling and how people are pushing those envelopes to drive better decisions,” said Chris Sorensen, creator of the DRIVE/conference. “How can we be more intelligent about using data to identify new revenue streams or develop relationships with customers or have our messages hit the right person at the right time?”

Many data industry conferences are sponsored by particular companies, which means people who use one kind of software or system never bump into people who use a different one. Because the DRIVE/conference is “vendor agnostic,” Sorensen said, people have the opportunity to interact with and learn from a much wider group of peers.

Participants have the opportunity to learn new skills, participate in technical deep dives and be inspired by world-class industry leaders. This year’s speakers include Rayid Ghani, chief scientist for “Obama for America 2012;” Dawn Lepore, former CEO of drugstore.com; and Scott Adams, cartoonist and creator of the Dilbert comic strip.

“He’s the kind of guy who has had such wonderful life experience bouncing around in different corporate experiences,” Sorensen said of Adams. “There’s a story in there that I think everyone can take a little bit out of and apply to themselves.”